PDF Biology of the Three-Spined Stickleback (Marine Biology)

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blacpymirele.tk: Biology of the Three-Spined Stickleback (CRC Marine Biology Series) (): Sara Ostlund-Nilsson, Ian Mayer, Felicity Anne.
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In males during the breeding season, the eyes become blue and the lower head, throat, and anterior belly turn bright red. The throat and belly of breeding females can turn slightly pink. A few populations, however, have breeding males which are all black [3] or all white.

Making of the Fittest: Evolution of the Stickleback Fish — HHMI BioInteractive Video

The three-spined stickleback is found only in the Northern Hemisphere, where it usually inhabits coastal waters or freshwater bodies. It can live in either fresh, brackish, or salt water. It prefers slow-flowing water with areas of emerging vegetation. It can be found in ditches, ponds, lakes, backwaters, quiet rivers, sheltered bays, marshes, and harbours. Its distribution could be said to be circumpolar were it not for the fact that it is absent from the north coast of Siberia, the north coast of Alaska, and the Arctic islands of Canada.

Three subspecies are currently recognized by the IUCN :. These subspecies actually represent three examples from the enormous range of morphological variation present within three-spined sticklebacks. These fall into two rough categories, the anadromous and the freshwater forms.

The anadromous form spends most of its adult life eating plankton and fish in the sea, and returns to freshwater to breed. They also have long dorsal and pelvic spines. The anadromous form is morphologically similar all around the Northern Hemisphere , such that anadromous fish from the Baltic, the Atlantic and the Pacific all resemble each other quite closely.

Three-spined stickleback populations are also found in freshwater lakes and streams. These populations were probably formed when anadromous fish started spending their entire lifecycle in fresh water, and thus evolved to live there all year round. Freshwater populations are extremely morphologically diverse, to the extent that many observers and some taxonomists would describe a new subspecies of three-spined stickleback in almost every lake in the Northern Hemisphere.

One consistent difference between freshwater populations and their anadromous ancestors is the amount of body armour, as the majority of freshwater fish only have between none and 12 lateral armour plates, and shorter dorsal and pelvic spines.

Three-spined stickleback

However, also large morphological differences occur between lakes. One major axis of variation is between populations found in deep, steep-sided lakes and those in small, shallow lakes. The fish in the deep lakes typically feed in the surface waters on plankton, and often have large eyes, with short, slim bodies and upturned jaws. Some researchers refer to this as the limnetic form. Fish from shallow lakes feed mainly on the lake bed, and are often long and heavy bodied with relatively horizontal jaws and small eyes.

These populations are referred to as the benthic form.

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Since each watershed was probably colonised separately by anadromous sticklebacks, morphologically similar populations in different watersheds or on different continents are widely believed to have evolved independently. One aspect of this morphological variation is that a number of lakes contain both a limnetic and a benthic type, and these do not interbreed with each other. Evolutionary biologists often define species as populations that do not interbreed with each other the biological species concept , thus the benthics and limnetics within each lake would constitute separate species.


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These species pairs are an excellent example of how adaptation to different environments in this case feeding in the surface waters or on the lake bed can generate new species. This process has come to be termed ecological speciation. This type of species pair is found in British Columbia. The lakes themselves only contain three-spined sticklebacks and cutthroat trout , and all are on islands. Tragically, the pair in Hadley Lake on Lasqueti Island was destroyed in the mids by the introduction of a predatory catfish, and the pair in Enos Lake on Vancouver Island has started to interbreed and are no longer two distinct species.

Other species pairs which consist of a well-armored marine form and a smaller, unarmored freshwater form are being studied in ponds and lakes in south-central Alaska that were once marine habitats such as those uplifted during the Alaska earthquake. The evolutionary dynamics of these species pairs are providing a model for the processes of speciation which has taken place in less than 20 years in at least one lake. In , a chemical eradication program intended to make room for trout and salmon at Loberg Lake, Alaska, killed the resident freshwater populations of sticklebacks.

Oceanic sticklebacks introduced through nearby Cook Inlet recolonized the lake. However, the actual molecular basis of this evolution still remains unknown. Although sticklebacks are found in many locations around the coasts of the Northern Hemisphere and are thus viewed by the IUCN as species of least concern , the unique evolutionary history encapsulated in many freshwater populations indicates further legal protection may be warranted. In its different forms or stages of life, the three-spined stickleback can be a bottom-feeder most commonly chironomid larvae or a planktonic feeder in lakes or in the ocean; it can also consume terrestrial prey fallen to the surface.

Many populations take two years to mature and experience only one breeding season before dying, and some can take up to three years to reach maturity. However, some freshwater populations and populations at extreme latitudes can reach maturity in only one year.

From late April, males and females move from deeper waters to shallow areas. There, each male defends a territory where he builds a nest on the bottom.


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  • He starts by digging a small pit. He then fills it with plant material often filamentous algae , sand, and various debris which he glues together with spiggin, a proteinaceous substance secreted from the kidneys the word spiggin comes from spigg , the Swedish name for the three-spined stickleback.

    He then creates a tunnel through the more or less spherical nest by swimming vigorously through it.

    Three-spined stickleback

    Nest building typically takes 5—6 hours [10] though it may also be spread out over several days. Compared with fish exposed to high p CO 2 , the control fish took longer time to freeze i. The freezing duration was significantly reduced between Day 10 and Day 20 in elevated p CO 2 , whereas no such reduction was observed in the control-group.

    However, no significant differences between treatment groups were detected at Day These results demonstrate that behaviour is indeed altered by high CO 2 levels, although the general responses to avian predation stimuli remain similar to those of unexposed fish, indicating that some predator avoidance behaviours of three-spined sticklebacks are robust to environmental disturbance.

    Additional keywords: carbon dioxide, gasterosteidae, global change, lateralisation, ocean acidification, predator avoidance.

    River Tagus may be bearing the genetic footprint of two different migration events. On the other hand, H4 a disjunct variant also occurring in the USA and the British Isles and its associated star-like phylogeny may be the result of a second wave of Atlantic migrants expanding southwards Fig 5. Our interpretation about the number of colonisation events should be used with caution, as it is based on the assumption that each of them was due to a group of migrants carrying little ancestral polymorphism.

    Confirming whether Western Iberian G. For the time being, we advocate that several waves of North Atlantic migrants colonised Western Iberia. This idea is based on the 25 alternations between full glacial stadial and relatively mild conditions occurred during the Last Glacial period —8 kya [ 62 ]. Such fluctuations likely made northern G. Indeed, dramatic hydrological changes took place along the Western Iberian Margin during the last 61 kya [ 63 , 64 ].

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    Bearing in mind the high marine dispersal ability of larvae and juveniles of this species up to Km in the Northeast Atlantic [ 66 ], the arrival of two waves of migrants to River Tagus remains plausible. The star-like phylogeny centred in the disjunct haplotype H19 indicated a population expansion in Northwestern Spain Fig 5 , as eight private haplotypes unambiguously derived from it Fig 8. H19 was also present in two Irish individuals S2 Appendix. At present, we cannot determine whether this finding is a hint of the northwards expansion of this haplotype from Northwestern Spain or if it actually dispersed southwards from northern latitudes and subsequently diversified in Northwestern Spain.

    Both possibilities are plausible as other intermittent poleward flows have been recorded along the Eastern Boundary of the North Atlantic [ 67 ]. Genetic data support such a northward dispersal from Western Iberia to the British Isles for some coastal species [ 68 ], but not for others [ 69 ]. Its derived H29 was private to the American locality of Maine, whereas haplotype H7 was only found in Scotland and the HH variants were endemic to two geographically close sites in Southwestern Ireland. Transoceanic dispersal has been previously suggested for G.

    The question remains whether the Transatlantic dispersal of G. H4, dispersed into North America at some point. The phylogeography of the nine-spined stickleback Pungitius pungitius does not support such a westward dispersal [ 73 ], but further sampling and markers will be needed to test that hypothesis, proved in other species [ 74 ]. The populations surrounding the Bay of Biscay most likely derived from the expansion of the widespread haplotypes H1 and H Such a pattern of fairly low allelic richness but high gene diversity was also found in Valencia S14 , where the translocation from Catalonia somehow mimicked a bottleneck due to a long-distance founding event.

    The threats reported for G. Indeed, the abundance of the Iberian three-spined stickleback is negatively correlated to invasive introduced fish Gambusia holbrooki , Lepomis gibbosus , Micropterus salmoides and crayfish Procambarus clarkii [ 25 , 77 ]. Less is known, however, about the influence of climate change on the extinction of populations of G. The three-spined stickleback is likely displacing northwards because of global warming [ 78 ].

    Three-spined stickleback - Wikipedia

    Thus, physiochemical constraints such as a rapid increase of water temperature and low dissolved oxygen may be a threat in peripheral isolated populations of southern latitudes [ 79 ], particularly in isolated ponds [ 80 ]. Majorca S15 , Vouga S10 and Antela S7 were unambiguously indicated by both the nuclear allelic and mitochondrial diversity analyses as the Ibero-Balearic populations of G.

    Prioritisation of highly diverse and effectively large populations rather than unique but small and depleted ones is a better approach to maintain the evolutionary potential of a species.